6 Players Chelsea Must Target to Improve Champions League Fortunes Next Year

Garry Hayes@@garryhayesFeatured ColumnistMay 2, 2014

6 Players Chelsea Must Target to Improve Champions League Fortunes Next Year

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    With Chelsea now out of the Champions League and the Premier League season all but over, the club's plans for 2014-15 will begin in earnest.

    Jose Mourinho has been analysing his options all season, lamenting a lack of strength among his strikers, while other areas of the squad need to be addressed.

    But where to start? The situation at Stamford Bridge isn't exactly drastic, but it's clear some changes will need to be made in order to avoid the disappointments they have suffered this term.

    With the Premier League's best defensive record, Chelsea can focus their attentions elsewhere for this year at least, with a need for a dynamic midfielder and striker to bring more options going forward.

    Bleacher Report looks at six players who could prove to be the difference in transforming Chelsea from also-rans to champions once more.

Diego Costa

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    Was Diego Costa's penalty this week the first of many goals he will score at Stamford Bridge?

    Chelsea fans certainly hope so.

    The Blues defence did a relatively good job of keeping the Brazilian-cum-Spanish striker quiet over the two legs of their Champions League semi-final, yet it didn't mean he wasn't effective.

    Costa caused Gary Cahill and John Terry plenty of problems, physically imposing himself, and even winning the penalty that all but ended Chelsea's hopes when he converted it.

    The Atletico Madrid man is unlike any other striker the Blues have right now, and with his goalscoring record he would arrive a player in form and entering his prime.

    He can play the lone role Chelsea have opted for this term and is also effective with a strike partner. Along with his goals, he brings options, and that's something that adds considerable strength to any team.

Adam Lallana

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    Where have all the Englishman at Chelsea gone?

    Outside of John Terry and Gary Cahill, there aren't any other regular starters heralding from England, and installing some home-grown blood will bring an edge to Chelsea.

    Throughout history we have seen how a core of indigenous talent has proved vital for clubs across Europe. During Jose Mourinho's first spell in charge, his English players were arguably more vital than any of the expensive foreign imports who followed him to Stamford Bridge.

    The Blues need to restore theirs, with Adam Lallana one of the best players in positions where Chelsea will be looking to strengthen.

    The Southampton midfielder plays in an attacking role for the Saints, although he has all the attributes to play slightly more withdrawn, taking on Frank Lampard's box-to-box mantle.

    Outside of Lampard, it's only Ramires who can perform that role, and playing alongside Nemanja Matic, it's a vital area.

    Lallana brings dynamism and goals. He understands the Premier League and English football, and he is talented and at a defining stage of his career.

    Does he leave Southampton or remain for good? Signing him could be as significant a bit of business as it was when the Blues snapped up Lampard from West Ham United in 2001.

Loic Remy

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    Chelsea have been down the Newcastle United striker route before.

    Signing Demba Ba in January 2013, it hasn't quite worked out the way the club and player would have hoped.

    With Loic Remy, currently on loan from QPR, it has the potential to be much different.

    For one, the Frenchman is a more dynamic player than Ba. He is effective through the middle but has enough skill and poise to pose a threat on the ground as he does in the air.

    For the No. 10s who would surround him at Chelsea, Remy would thrive on their service, his movement creating space to help unlock defences.

    One criticism of Chelsea is they are a reactive team, a team unable to take the game to opponents from the start.

    Facing teams on a par with them isn't a problem, but against so-called lesser clubs who aren't expected to attack, Chelsea have struggled to find a way through at times this season.

    Note how their Premier League hopes faded with surprise defeats to Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and Sunderland.

    Given their problems up front, just the one striker isn't going to make a difference this summer. They need at least two, and Remy would be a good second addition.

Cesc Fabregas

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    With so much talk right now of Cesc Fabregas potentially leaving Barcelona this summer, it's difficult not to consider the fact there is an element of truth to the rumours.

    Goal.com is the latest to suggest the Spaniard could be shown the door at the Nou Camp, and if it proves to be so, Chelsea should attempt to lure him to Stamford Bridge.

    It will be easier said than done, but look at what he brings. It would certainly be worth the hard work.

    Fabregas is a player who would help Chelsea's attacking flow. He can play in a deeper role alongside Nemanja Matic, starting attacks and also finishing them.

    Chelsea's three attacking midfielders, whoever Jose Mourinho fields from Eden Hazard, Oscar, Willian, Andre Schurrle and Mohamed Salah, require service as much as any other player in the team.

    They enjoy playing on the counter, a tactic that requires quick and decisive movement of the ball forward.

    Fabregas is a player who offers that and so much more.

    Forget his Arsenal and Barca connections—two clubs with a fierce rivalry against Chelsea—he would give something the Blues have been missing this year.

Marouane Fellaini

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    Not many people would have considered Marouane Fellaini bad business this time last year.

    After a wretched debut season at Manchester United, suddenly the Belgian has become a punchline, however.

    He has struggled to fit in at United and has looked anything but a £27 million player.

    Could a change of scenery be what he needs to reignite his career?

    If we remember, Juan Sebastian Veron went through a similar experience when he moved to Old Trafford from Lazio.

    It was a move that failed, and Chelsea signed him of the £30 million United had splashed out on him.

    That also backfired for the Blues, with the Argentinian just as ineffective in London as he was in Manchester.

    Fellaini is different, though. He has shown his talents in the Premier League, and arriving at a club on the up—as opposed to United, who were struggling to adjust under a new manager—he could prove a shrewd signing by Jose Mourinho.

    Given his form this season, he could arrive for a fraction of what United paid Everton.

    It's certainly worth considering.

Thibaut Courtois

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    Thibaut Courtois made his Stamford Bridge debut this week, but despite being a Chelsea player, it came in the colours of Atletico Madrid.

    The Belgian has shown he is definitely the man for Chelsea's long-term future in goal, so perhaps now is the time the Blues should consider bringing him back from his three-year loan spell in Madrid.

    That would cause some conflict with Petr Cech, but with cup competitions taking up a considerable chunk of the fixture list, there's potential for Jose Mourinho to rotate his goalkeepers.

    For all his efforts, Mark Schwarzer's nervous display in the Champions League semi-final second leg outlined Chelsea's need for a quality back-up goalkeeper.

    Had they been able to call upon Courtois when Cech was injured, it could have been a different story altogether.

    Schwarzer's nerves seemed to influence his defensive colleagues, and Atletico's opener was the perfect example of the impact that can have.

    Bring back Courtois and suddenly Chelsea look very strong, indeed.

    Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter @garryhayes